And suddenly things flip around.
“Oh…my…God,” Brendon said, jaw dropping.
Ryan had his eyes closed and his head back on the headrest of the driver’s seat. He was picking it up and banging it back over and over. “Please, stop. Please, stop. Please stop,” he repeated in a constant mantra.
“Who the fuck are you?” Brendon asked, looking over at Ryan with wide eyes.
It looked like Ryan was about to start banging his head on the seat cushion again. “What? I have a nice house.”
“No, you have a small mansion.”
“Nah, this is kind of fun.”
“Let’s just go inside,” Ryan muttered, unbuckling his seat belt and getting out of the door. He waited right outside of the car and watched him with a nonplussed look on his face.
Brendon grinned and let himself out of the car. “Is the inside nicer?” he asked. Ryan glared at him and made his way over to the door, shaking his head and muttering something under his breath. He pushed his keys roughly in the front door, then pulled them out when he realized that the door was already unlocked. He muttered something else and pushed the door in, letting them into the house.
Brendon’s suspicions had been right; on the inside everything looked expensive and the place was furnished with stuff that he’d seen in magazines or on TV shows in rich people’s houses. He gawked and his mind scrambled to think of how Ryan could possibly live in a place like this, what did his parents do? He couldn’t even guess how much it cost.
“Close your mouth Brendon, you’ll catch flies,” Spencer said, walking into the room. He turned to Ryan. “About time you showed up!”
“It’s not my fault that I had detention,” Ryan said, sitting down on the couch and glaring up at Spencer. It was clear that it was just light though. Still, Brendon could tell that a lot of things were adding to Ryan’s sudden—or maybe not so—irritation and that the glare had a glint of realness in it.
“But it is. They give you detention as a punishment when you do something wrong. If you hadn’t done whatever wrong you wouldn’t have gotten detention,” Brent said, coming in right after Spencer with a can of Pepsi in his hand.
“I’m not above murder, Brent, I’ll just have you know that,” Ryan said, looking up at the other boy. Brendon thought that he could see the struggle Ryan was going through not to snap. He wondered how he had all of this insight into this other teenager that he’d barely known for only the week that he’d “known” him. It was just there, clear as day to him, though it didn’t look like Brent noticed it at all and that Spencer only sensed a hint of it.
Brent just laughed and brought the can to his mouth while Spencer raised an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with you today Ry?”
“I’m just kind of pissed off,” he grumbled. “I had detention for a stupid reason and I found out that Brendon’s been getting bullied all week, led by those same assholes that messed with me in sophomore year.”
And suddenly all of the attention was snapped to him. “Really? Are you alright?” Spencer asked.
He nodded. “I’m fine, the week’s over.”
“Hey, do you think that he would be protected by your restraining order?” Brent asked, looking at Ryan.
“What?” Brendon asked.
Ryan rolled his eyes. “The bullying got really bad and I showed the right people some of the stuff that happened to me. It’s not a restraining order, they got called in and talked to and now they don’t mess with me anymore. I don’t know what was said, but it must have been convincing.” There was a small smirk on Ryan’s face as he said it and Brendon wondered if he really didn’t know what had been said.
“Then why don’t you just confront them? You know that they’re scared of you,” Spencer said.
“Can we please stop talking about me?” Ryan asked, closing his eyes and leaning his head back on the couch.
“Yeah, we should show Brendon around,” Brent said, looking excited.
“This house is amazing, come on,” Spencer said, turning back and grabbing him by the arm, pulling him into another room. Brendon still heard Ryan’s loud sigh as they left, though.
He was shown the kitchen, another living room that had a TV and was more enclosed than the first one right by the door, there was the upstairs with four bedrooms and a bathroom, there was a pool outside that Spencer told him was fifteen feet deep at the deepest, and there was a basement that really didn’t have much in it storage-wise, and that Spencer told him wasn’t used for anything.
Brent ran up the stairs to get more food or something like that, so it was only Brendon and Spencer. Before the other boy could go upstairs though, Brendon put a hand on his arm. “Yeah?” Spencer asked, turning to look at him.
“What do Ryan’s parents do that they live in a house like this?” Brendon asked quietly, as if Ryan could hear them from the front living room. He didn’t want to ask Ryan because it was clear that he hated talking about stuff like that, but Brendon was so damn curious that he asked the next best person.
Spencer had a strange look on his face and it looked like he was trying to decide what he should say before he said, “Ryan’s emancipated, the government pays for everything. Besides, Ry doesn’t really use many utilities all on his own.” Spencer gave him a soft smile that was a clear warning not to mention anything to Ryan. Then he turned away and went back up the stairs. Brendon followed, much slower.
Emancipated? How? Why? He was confused and shocked and he wasn’t quite able to wrap his head around what he’d just been told. It seemed to be an odd situation. Brendon didn’t know very much about it, but he knew that it didn’t happen very often and that it was usually an extreme measure.
Shaking his head, Brendon followed the sound of voices to the living room and he sat down in a chair. It wasn’t until Spencer snapped his fingers in front of his face that Brendon realized he was staring into space, still contemplating Ryan’s parental status. Before he could help himself, he blurted, “Where’s your guardian? Don’t you need to have a guardian if you’re underage?”
Everyone stared at him with wide eyes and he felt heat rush to his face. He burrowed back into the chair, not making eye contact, muttering apologies. Then Ryan cut him off. “I assume you found out about that?” he asked, already knowing the answer. Brendon nodded anyway. “As for the guardian, no,” he said it in an offhanded tone. He must have caught Brendon’s confused look then. “I pretty much take care of myself. It’s all okay, I get money from my dad that goes to pay for groceries and stuff like that, the government pays for the house and I’m left alone. My case is different from others, most have to support themselves financially and the court is completely out of it.”
Brendon wasn’t sure if he imagined it but he thought he heard the tiniest trace of bitterness in Ryan’s voice like he wasn’t as fine as he wanted to be with the situation. He also didn’t know what to say to the explanation so he just nodded with an ‘oh’ look on his face.
“Ryan’s a special case anyway though so it’s not much of a surprise,” Brent said, laughing. Spencer laughed, too, and added something along the same lines. Obviously they were the ones for lightening the mood.
“Hey Brendon, why don’t you call your parents and tell them where you are,” Ryan suggested quietly, shaking his head and glaring at the other two. He flipped them off, though they were too busy to notice. Brendon nodded and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He dialed the number and didn’t have to wait long before his mother’s voice came on the phone.
“Brendon Boyd Urie, why aren’t you home? What happened? You better have a good explanation,” she said firmly, sounding on the edge of yelling. He winced a little and kept himself from burrowing back even further into the back of the chair that he was sitting in.
“I’m at a friend’s house, I forgot to call earlier, sorry,” he said, hoping that she would accept that and not make him leave. “It was a snap decision, but I’m fine, I really am, you don’t have to worry.”
“A friend’s house?” she asked, sounding genuinely surprised. He scowled a little.
“Yes, Mom a friend’s house.”
“Brendon, ask her if you can spend the night, that’s what we’re all doing,” Spencer whispered. He nodded.
“Hey mom,” he said, cutting off what she was saying, something that he wasn’t listening to, “can I spend the night?”
“Well, I don’t know, I don’t know his parents, honey,” she answered, sounding hesitant. Brendon had expected her to jump at the chance since she’d always wanted him to go out and socialize and be friends with people before.
Brendon scrambled for something to say in response to that. His mom probably wouldn’t be thrilled about the idea of there not being any parents so it was clear he had to come up with something, preferably something that wasn’t a total lie. “Uh, that’s okay, it’s not a problem,” he said weakly, realizing straight away that it was terrible. At least it was buying him time, though.
“It doesn’t matter so much if it’s a problem for them, I want to know the people that my baby boy will be spending a night around,” she said.
Brendon’s mind went blank, he had no idea what to say to that. He looked up and saw that Ryan was watching him with a slightly amused look on his face. “Here, I’ll let you talk to my friend,” he said, shoving the phone into Ryan’s arms and leaning away before it could be returned.
Ryan lightly glared at him before bringing the phone to his ear and listening. “I’m Ryan,” pause, “yeah, well, Brendon’s a part of the band that two other friends and I are in,” Ryan said. There was a pause. “Yes, that’s really fortunate; it was nice to see him on the first day of school.” Brendon could faintly hear his mom’s voice. “Don’t worry about a thing Mrs. Urie; Brendon will be fine over here,” Ryan said with an amused smile, he laughed a little and nodded, and then he handed the phone back to Brendon.
“I don’t think spending the night will be a problem. Just make sure you come home soon to get clothes, bathroom stuff, and your medicine,” she reminded him.
“Okay,” he said, a little dazed. It was that easy? What did Ryan do?
“I’ll see you in a little bit then Sweetie, bye.” Then the line disconnected.
Brendon closed his phone and looked over at Ryan. “What did you say to her?”
“He does that kind of stuff all the time with adults. Isn’t it fucked up how he can make them do whatever he wants?” Spencer asked, wide-eyed. “It just goes to support the fact that he’s a freak.”
“What is with you insulting me so much today?” Ryan asked. “You aren’t normally this mean to me, is it a special occasion?”
“Oh shut up Ry,” Spencer said lightly so it was obviously a joke and a sort of apology at the same time. Then he turned back to Brendon, “So you’re spending the night?” He looked excited and Brendon found himself looking forward to this.
“Apparently so. I have to go back home and get my stuff soon though,” he said, looking over at Ryan.
“No problem,” Ryan answered. “I’ll take you whenever you want to go.” Brendon nodded his thanks.
For the next couple of hours at Ryan’s house they were playing video games and listening to music. Ryan gave Brendon a better tour than the other two who had just dragged him from room to room, and Ryan showed Brendon the music room that he had.
It was a miraculous room with a grand piano, guitars leaning against and hanging on the wall, two keyboards, a drum set, and all kinds of other instruments. By the way that Ryan introduced the room it was clear that it was his favorite and his pride and joy. He said that he’d collected all of the instruments over time and that even his first guitar from when he was twelve was in the room. Brendon just gawked in that room, ignoring the other three laughing at him, and planning when he could possibly sneak away to sleep in there. Maybe live there.
There was a lot of talking as they played the video games and Brendon was able to observe just how close all of them were. Ryan and Spencer obviously had some special brother-like bond and it seemed like Brent was a bit of a third wheel, but none of it seemed to affect the closeness that they all shared. Brendon felt a little awkward, but was surprised to find that they accepted him easily and involved him as if he’d been a part of their group for years.
Eventually he told Ryan that he should probably go and get his stuff. He could feel his symptoms coming on, that was the reason he really thought about it. Otherwise he would have probably forgotten. Ryan nodded, handed the controller that he was using to Brent and got up to get the keys.
They got into the car and Ryan followed Brendon’s directions to get to his house. “I’ll be right back, it shouldn’t take too long,” Brendon assured, getting out. Ryan just nodded and Brendon went up to the house.
Luckily, neither of his parents was standing at the door when he got in, so Brendon was able to go up to his room and pack his bag without any delay. He checked over it once, and went back down, hoping that his parents still wouldn’t be there. That wasn’t happening, though, and his mom made sure to check that he had everything no matter that he repeatedly told her that he did. Then, she hugged him hard and kissed him on the cheek repeatedly. When he was freed, he bolted out of the door so she couldn’t come up with something else to stall him.
Brendon got into the car finally, shaking his head as he sat. Ryan looked amused and like he was expecting an explanation. “Just go,” Brendon said with a sigh.
Ryan smiled a little. “Parental thing?”
“Yeah, they have to make sure that I have everything that I need for a week long journey before going away for one night. Somehow they don’t realize that I can probably go without for at least one night,” he grumbled, irritated by the delay and wanting to be back at Ryan’s house already.
“You’re not staying all weekend? That’s what we usually do,” Ryan said. Brendon thought he saw a look flash through Ryan’s eyes, but it was gone before he could be sure that he’d seen it.
“I have church on Sunday,” Brendon grumbled again. The control that his parents had over his life was frustrating now that it looked like he was getting a life.
This time Ryan smirked as he put the car in gear and pulled away from the curb. “What religion?”
“Mormon, I’m guessing you are or were something?”
“Still better than being a Mormon,” Brendon said, looking over at Ryan.
Ryan laughed. “I don’t know, you haven’t been subject to the Catholic Church. Catholicism sucks.”
They arrived at his house a few minutes later and Brendon set all of his stuff down by the couch where everyone else’s stuff was when they were through the door. Brent came out of the kitchen, once again, and nodded at them, “You’re back.” Then Spencer came into the room behind him, also with food. He made some comment about the party being able to finally start.
The “party” consisted of more video games, with music playing from a stereo system beside the TV, food, and conversation in the second living room that was more sheltered. It was fun, though, and Brendon found himself enjoying the relaxed, but competitive atmosphere. Plus, he could start to feel the closeness of the others spread out to him. Soon enough, he was able to loosen up and throw jesting insults around like everyone else.
At one point the landline in the kitchen rang and Ryan sighed to go and get it. He’d only been watching so it wasn’t that big of a deal and Brent and Spencer, who were playing, definitely weren’t affected at all. Brendon just looked after Ryan and turned back to the TV.
Then Brendon’s phone rang and he reached into his pocket to get it. Quickly he silenced it and looked at the ID. It was his sister, Kara. He was surprised and happy and a little confused and he picked the phone up as soon as the identity registered fully.
“Why are you calling?” he asked before he really thought.
“Well hello to you too,” she responded, only acting offended. Kara was his second oldest, and his favorite, sister. Really she was his favorite sibling.
“Sorry, but, you know, why are you calling? It’s kind of an odd time.”
“I’ve got big news,” she said excitedly.
That was enough to hook him. He felt his eyes widen even though he didn’t know what the big news was. “Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me,” his voice rose by the end and Spencer and Brent had paused the game to stare at him. He smiled, embarrassed.
“Well, since you asked so nicely…”
“Just tell me,” he whined.
“Okay, okay, ready?” She paused, and Brendon nodded, knowing that she’d somehow be able to “see” it, “I’m pregnant!”
“Holy shit! That’s awesome! Uh, congrats! What did Mark say?” He realized that he was bouncing as he sat and quickly stopped himself. Spencer and Brent probably thought he was insane.
“That’s the thing, he doesn’t know yet,” she said and he could almost see her nervous little smile.
“Look, I just found out and I was bursting with excitement, I had to tell someone. He’s at work and I want to tell him in person, so I decided to tell you first.”
“You know our family. Our sister would tell Mark if I made her mad, even when the kid’s three, she would hold it over my head forever. Our brothers wouldn’t care nearly as much and they would accidentally let it slip sometime. Mom would immediately question how our relationship is if I didn’t tell him first. And Dad would guilt trip me. You’ll keep it a secret forever and beside all of that, you know you’re my favorite, B bear.”
He sighed but sort of smiled because he did. “Yeah, I know. So you’re going to let him think that he’s the first to know?”
“It’s a tiny lie that’s just to protect his feelings, B, you understand.”
“Of course, of course.”
“Do you realize what an honor it is to be the second person in the world to find out? You’ll have known of him or her longer than anyone but myself.”
“Yeah, it’s something that should be shared with a husband.”
“Don’t you dare start acting like Dad,” she warned. “I have to go now, Mark’s going to be home in ten minutes and I want to set something up. I’ll talk to you again soon Brenny Bear,” she said. “Love you!” Then she hung up.
He shook his head, smiling, and shut his phone, putting it back in his pocket. Like him, Kara loved productions and he could only hope for pictures. Brendon looked up and saw that Spencer and Brent were staring at him like he was a wild animal or something. “What was that?” Spencer asked, looking mildly amused.
“My second oldest sister.”
“What did she tell you?” Brent asked.
“I can’t tell you.”
“What? We’re your best friends, you have to,” Spencer protested.
“It’s her news. I can tell you sometime tomorrow, though, if you still want to know.”
Spencer threw a pillow at him. “You suck at being a best friend.” Brendon laughed.
“What’s going on?” Ryan asked, coming back into the room and sitting down. He looked irritated and tired as he ran a hand through his hair, looking at all of them quizzically. Brendon briefly wondered about it, but he was drawn away from his thoughts by the reminder of the currently debated issue.
“Brendon got a mysterious phone call that he claims is from his sister but he won’t tell us what she said,” Spencer complained, he seemed oddly obsessed about it for whatever reason. Ryan only raised his eyebrow at Spencer, not offering a comment.
“First, it’s none of your business and second, I can’t tell you until tomorrow. I’m not going to forfeit my favorite sibling title, especially not when it’s my favorite sibling. If it was one of the others, I would consider it since they don’t talk to me as much and wouldn’t be able to tell if I’d told other people or not,” Brendon retorted. “It’s her news and it’s a big deal that she told me about it anyway.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Brent didn’t look convinced and Brendon just rolled his eyes, hoping that the topic could be dropped now. Ryan looked over at him and gave him a semi-sympathetic look, making Brendon think that this kind of thing happened a lot, mostly to Ryan.
Then Spencer decided to change obsessions and he twisted his head around to look at Ryan. “What was that, Ry?”
Ryan stiffened. “Nothing.”
“Oh come on, I’ve known you since Kindergarten, send the others out of the room if you want but tell me,” Spencer pleaded.
“Why are you so nosey tonight, Smith?” Ryan asked, still stiff. It didn’t look like he was going to give any details about who had been on the phone or what the conversation had been about, either. Brendon recognized it instantly and wasn’t surprised when Spencer dropped it.
“I just don’t like secrets,” Spencer said, showing that he was backing down.
“Unless they’re you own,” Brent said. Spencer threw a pillow at him and un-paused the video game, making Brent scramble for the controls.
Later on in the night, Ryan put a movie on and they all changed into their pajamas, taking places around the room to sleep in. It was really early in the morning and the movie was thirty minutes from being over so of course Brendon wasn’t asleep yet. He couldn’t fall asleep when movies were playing, even if he’d seen it before. Even if he could quote it entirely, Brendon had to see the ending. Brent and Spencer had fallen asleep but Ryan was still up with him because apparently he was the same way and he’d seen the movie more than Brendon.
“I know exactly what’s going to be said a minute from now and I can exactly picture the explosion, yet I’m still awake.” Ryan said, voicing Brendon’s thoughts. He was leaning against the opposite arm of the couch, staring blankly at the screen with his head resting on his fist.
Brendon laughed a little. “Good to know that I’m not the only one. Though I haven’t seen this movie nearly enough to quote it.” Ryan just shook his head in exasperation, eyes still on the screen, watching all of the events unfold yet again.
The movie ended twenty minutes later and when the TV was dark, Brendon felt how tired he was. He leaned over and closed his eyes while Ryan went out to get water or something from the kitchen. It wasn’t long before he was fast asleep on a near-stranger’s couch.
Ryan came back out into the pitch black living room, hearing the familiar sounds of Brent and Spencer’s snoring. He also heard a sound that he assumed was Brendon’s breathing. He made a mental note to share a room with him when they were in hotels on tours because he was actually quiet. Ryan smiled a little at the thought. Thinking about making it big and having the life that he wanted so much had that effect on him, still.
Unfortunately for the two of them, Brendon had stretched out on the couch so he was taking up the whole thing and Spencer and Brent took the two comfortable chairs in the living room. Ryan moved to see how asleep Brendon was so he wouldn’t wake up when he moved him. For only being awake less than five minutes ago, he was out cold. The other boy still had his big, black glasses on and they were lopsided on his face. It also looked like they were being stretched, making Ryan wonder if Brendon probably should have taken them off first.
In one of those moments when he decided to be nicer than he had to be, he gently lifted Brendon’s head up, pulling the glasses off of his face and setting them down on the side table. Then he put the other boy’s head back on the arm of the couch, smiling a little bit at the fact that Brendon showed no signs of waking up. Ryan moved the other boy’s legs so they were more on one side and he went to the other end of the couch. He pulled the footrest up and settled down, looking up at the ceiling and trying to let his mind drift away or detach from the world.
Unfortunately, he found that his mind was stuck on Brendon’s dilemma at school and how happy and relieved he’d been all night at Ryan’s house. Ryan replayed what Brendon told him a few hours earlier, feeling his anger at the other seniors rise up. He was all too familiar with some of the things that Brendon had told him as he’d gone through the same, two years ago. He turned on his side and looked at the teenager sleeping next to him, marveling at how strong Brendon had been if that shit had been happening all week. Ryan went over the whole week and hated that he’d never pushed harder to get Brendon to tell him what was wrong so he could help. He understood, though, and he regarded Brendon again. “From here on out, Bren, I’m going to help keep you safe,” he whispered. There was no response, but he watched for a second before he rolled onto his back again to stare at the ceiling. After a long half hour and several changes of position, Ryan finally fell asleep, his promise still on his mind.
Brendon woke up sore, and when he looked down at his body he saw why. All night he must have been sleeping curled up in a little ball and now his muscles were resisting the stretch of straightening out. When he slid off the couch, he stumbled a little and his muscles protested, so he had to sit back down.
As he sat there, he noticed the smell in the air. It smelled like breakfast, specifically eggs, and he would have gone out to look if he’d been able to move freely. While he waited to get feeling back into his limbs, Brendon felt his stomach turn in hunger and he hoped there would be enough for him when he was finally able to get up.
Eventually, he realized that the room was empty, except for Brent who was still snoring in his chair. Brendon shook his head, of course it was Ryan and Spencer making the egg smell. There wasn’t anyone else who would be doing it.
When he was able to walk normally again, he took his medicine and left the room. He went into the kitchen where Ryan and Spencer were talking and laughing. Spencer was at the stove with the pan and Ryan was leaning against the counter. His stomach picked then to growl really loudly and the other two turned to him, startled out of their moment. “Hey, Brendon. Do you want some eggs?” Spencer asked, half turning back to the stove.
“Yeah,” he said slowly, feeling dazed for some reason. Ryan motioned for Brendon to join him at the counter and Brendon took a seat on one of the bar stools, returning Ryan’s greeting. In just one night, he had friends and he was part of a group. That fact felt profound for some reason and Brendon guessed that it would make more sense later on. He looked at the other two and relaxed a little bit, smiling and easily slipping into the conversation.
After Friday the bullying didn’t just go away. Brendon had to deal with it all day on Monday and it was much worse than the previous week. There were things thrown at him by almost everyone, people tripped him in the hallways and on the way out of class, he got pushed into lockers when people bigger than him passed him, and the assholes continued with their name-calling. Brendon was taunted and teased and called names whenever Ryan wasn’t around, but none of it seemed as bad because he knew that he had his friends and when Ryan was around, he was left alone.
“What are you so confident about, Faggot?” one of the assholes sneered at him when he didn’t flinch while they called him names, pushing him up against the lockers. While it was true that he was breathing harder than before, Brendon really didn’t feel afraid or helpless. He simply put up with it until the bell rang and the assholes waited until the last minute to go to class. Brendon was late for his own, but it didn’t matter to him.
At the end of the day they cornered Brendon in the hallway again and since all of the teachers were gone, Brendon did shrink back, folding in on himself because he knew that this could get out of hand. The assholes were still harassing him when Ryan came out of detention that he had to serve until Friday. When Ryan saw it, something changed and he actually became scary.
He approached the group with an air about him that challenged any of them to step nearer. It was hard not to notice how they all stepped back and got tense when Ryan approached. All he did was walk into the middle of the group and grab Brendon’s wrist. Ryan pulled him away and stopped when they were a good distance of two feet from all of the other seniors. Ryan fixed all of them with a look, “Leave Brendon alone. If you don’t, sophomore year is going to repeat.” His tone was threatening and the look in his eyes was hard.
All of the assholes backed away and only narrowed their eyes at Ryan while he turned around and pulled Brendon behind him out of the school. “If they give you any more trouble tell me about it, I’ll make sure it stops,” Ryan promised, looking and sounding completely serious when he turned so Brendon was looking him dead in the hazel eyes.
After that, Brendon wasn’t picked on or teased quite as much. Some people still stuck their feet out to trip him, but they only did it when it could be mistaken as an accident. He was still called names occasionally, even by the assholes, but it didn’t bother him as much anymore and he let it go.
Band rehearsals became a regular thing and so did the sleepovers at Ryan’s house. Honestly, Brendon was still a little confused but thrilled about how everything had changed. They didn’t just change. They completely flipped around for the better. It was pretty amazing what a friend or two could do and Brendon had to wonder how he’d managed before without them.
Honestly, I don't like this chapter very much, but it's extremely important for at least five big reasons. Feel free to rate this chapter and review it. The chapter-quality gets better, I promise. YouTube playlist>> http://tinyurl.com/8o9llbb